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Mayor Jerry Sanders said today he would issue a stop-work order on the entire Sunroad office building project after initially signaling reluctance to halt construction earlier this week amid legal concerns that doing so could expose the city to more litigation.

Sanders said he made the decision after receiving advice from an outside law firm that the city was “on firm legal ground” to do so. City Attorney Mike Aguirre has been recommending Sanders stop all work on the project since Tuesday.

Sunroad has said the city has no legal basis to order work stoppage on parts of the Montgomery Field-area building that do not rise above the 160-foot height limit mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Additionally, Sanders has asked the state Attorney General’s Office to investigate Aguirre’s allegations that the mayor’s handling of the Sunroad issue is corrupt. The attorney general’s chief assistant said in a letter today the San Diego office will investigate the matter.

“I want, and I think citizens of our community deserve, a dispassionate assessment of the charges made by Mr. Aguirre,” Sanders said. “I am confident that this evaluation will conclude that I acted properly.”

The mayor, a former police chief, stood with several law enforcement officials at this morning’s news conference, including political allies such as Sheriff Bill Kolender and District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, who testified to the mayor’s integrity. Sanders scorned Aguirre for the allegations

“As a man who has dedicated himself to upholding the rule of law, I do not take the words ‘illegal’ or ‘corrupt’ lightly,” Sanders said. “I don’t, and I won’t, toss these words around. To me, they mean something.”

EVAN McLAUGHLIN

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